Austin WEC: Porsche scoops victory from Audi at COTA
The Porsche 919 of reigning champions Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard scored its third FIA World Endurance Championship victory on the trot in the 6 Hours of COTA – a race Audi will feel it should have won.
Audi dominated the opening stages, although Webber (who started on used tyres) briefly split them on the first lap. It converted a 1-2 front row lock out to a convincing race performance in the daylight hours, but Audi’s chances completely unravelled after sunset.
The duel between Audi and Porsche turned on its head with two hours remaining, as a collision between the #44 Manor Oreca LMP2 and #66 Ford GT in the Esses produced a perfectly-timed full-course yellow for the #1 Porsche.
The #7 Audi of Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer – which had previously held a lead of almost a minute – had already made its pitstop before the yellow. The #1 Porsche thus gained a ‘free’ stop under the caution, and leapfrogged into an unlikely lead of 18s.
As the #7 attempted to fight back, Treluyer clipped the #66 Ford GT of Olivier Pla in the fast right-hander at Turn 18 – the very same car that had cost him the lead in the first place.
“The Ford pushed me out, I’m stuck in the gravel,” Treluyer complained. Pla argued: “There was nothing I could do to avoid that.”
The #8 sister Audi had earlier been leading convincingly, but an electrical failure exiting Turn 1 stranded Loic Duval for about 50s while he recycled the system.
The car fell back behind the strongest Toyota – the #6 of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Stephane Sarrazin – and the #8 required two pitstops under full-course yellow when the driver’s door wouldn’t close properly.
A charging penultimate stint from Lucas di Grassi put the #8 Audi back in contention for second, and took the place from the Toyota in the final pitstops. But he was 20s behind the #1 Porsche, which stroked home in Bernhard’s hands to a third successive win.
The points-leading #2 Porsche finished a lacklustre fourth, by its lofty standards, delayed when Neel Jani suffered a puncture and also suffered aerodynamic issues.
The #5 Toyota was a distant fifth, Sebastian Buemi suffering a left-rear puncture plus a wastegate issue that hampered its power output. It was also given a 5s pitstop penalty for overtaking using track limits.
The #7 Audi trailed home sixth after a long delay for repairs following Treluyer’s shunt.
Rebellion won the non-hybrid LMP1 class, ahead of the ByKolles CLM.
Class wins for Signatech and Aston Martins
The LMP2 class was the preserve of the points-leading #36 Signatech Alpine of Nicolas Lapierre/Gustavo Menezes and Stephane Richelmi.
The main battle here was for second between the #43 RGR Sport by Morand Ligier and #26 G-Drive Oreca. The latter had to start from the back of the grid, but charging stints by Alex Brundle and Rene Rast took the fight to the Mexico City-winning car but just fell short.
In GTE Pro, the #95 Aston Martin of Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim dominated from start to finish, ahead of the AF Corse Ferraris of Gianmaria Bruni/James Calado and Davide Rigon/Sam Bird.
Sorensen revealed he lost radio contact with the pits in the penultimate stint, and only knew when to pit when the fuel alarm went off.
It was a similar story of Aston domination in GTE Am, as although it lost the lead on the opening lap and dropped to fourth, the #98 Vantage V8 of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda would not be denied victory – despite a late spin for Dalla Lana at Turn 8.
“It’s tough out there – you’re tired and it’s dark,” he explained.
|1||1|| Mark Webber |
|Porsche 919 Hybrid||LMP1||186||-|
|2||8|| Lucas di Grassi |
|3||6|| Stéphane Sarrazin |
|Toyota TS050 Hybrid||LMP1||186||26.096||26.096|
|4||2|| Romain Dumas |
|Porsche 919 Hybrid||LMP1||185||1 lap||1 lap|
|5||5|| Anthony Davidson |
|Toyota TS050 Hybrid||LMP1||184||2 laps||2 laps|
|6||7|| Andre Lotterer |
|Audi R18||LMP1||180||6 laps||6 laps|
|7||13|| Alexandre Imperatori |
|Rebellion R-One||LMP1||174||12 laps||12 laps|
|8||36|| Nicolas Lapierre |
|Alpine A460||LMP2||172||14 laps||14 laps|
|9||43|| Bruno Senna |
|Ligier JS P2||LMP2||171||15 laps||15 laps|
|10||26|| Roman Rusinov |
|Oreca 05||LMP2||171||14.915||15 laps|
|11||4|| Simon Trummer |
|CLM P1/01||LMP1||170||16 laps||16 laps|
|12||27|| Maurizio Mediani |
|BR01||LMP2||168||18 laps||18 laps|
|13||31|| Pipo Derani |
|Ligier JS P2||LMP2||168||5.773||18 laps|
|14||37|| Vitaly Petrov |
|BR01||LMP2||167||19 laps||19 laps|
|15||30|| Scott Sharp |
Johannes van Overbeek
|Ligier JS P2||LMP2||166||20 laps||20 laps|
|16||95|| Marco Sorensen |
|Aston Martin Vantage V8||LMGTE PRO||163||23 laps||23 laps|
|17||51|| Gianmaria Bruni |
|Ferrari 488 GTE||LMGTE PRO||163||11.486||23 laps|
|18||71|| Sam Bird |
|Ferrari 488 GTE||LMGTE PRO||162||24 laps||24 laps|
|19||67|| Harry Tincknell |
|Ford GT||LMGTE PRO||162||13.376||24 laps|
|20||97|| Darren Turner |
|Aston Martin Vantage V8||LMGTE PRO||162||18.413||24 laps|
|21||77|| Richard Lietz |
|Porsche 911 RSR (2016)||LMGTE PRO||161||25 laps||25 laps|
|22||35|| Nelson Panciatici |
|Alpine A460||LMP2||160||26 laps||26 laps|
|23||98|| Pedro Lamy |
Paul Dalla Lana
|Aston Martin Vantage V8||LMGTE AM||158||28 laps||28 laps|
|24||78|| Christian Ried |
|Porsche 911 RSR||LMGTE AM||158||1'02.838||28 laps|
|25||50|| Pierre Ragues |
|Chevrolet Corvette C7-Z06||LMGTE AM||157||29 laps||29 laps|
|26||86|| Michael Wainwright |
|Porsche 911 RSR||LMGTE AM||153||33 laps||33 laps|
|27||88|| David Heinemeier Hansson |
Khaled Al Qubaisi
|Porsche 911 RSR||LMGTE AM||153||1'17.197||33 laps|
|28||83|| François Perrodo |
|Ferrari F458 Italia||LMGTE AM||147||39 laps||39 laps|
|29||66|| Stefan Mücke |
|Ford GT||LMGTE PRO||144||42 laps||42 laps|
|30||44|| Roberto Merhi |
|Oreca 05||LMP2||157||29 laps||29 laps|
|31||42|| Nick Leventis |
|Gibson 015S||LMP2||58||128 laps||128 laps|
Austin WEC: Audi locks out front row for 6 Hours of COTA
Webber hails “best victory” in WEC after Audi “dropped the ball”